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What size of Nordic walking poles do I need and how to measure.

How do you measure for Nordic walking poles?

Using the correct height Nordic walking pole is important for both your comfort and your technique. A small difference in your pole height can make a big difference to both, so it’s worth getting it right. Here’s our top tips on getting pole height just right:

  • The most accurate way to measure your pole height is to stand on flat ground with your elbow tucked into your side, your shoulder should be relaxed and the pole should be vertical. Make sure you’re holding the pole handle in the right place and if you’re planning to walks mainly on soft ground take any rubber paws off (so the spike is showing) to get an accurate measure. Your forearm should be horizontal or slightly lower than horizontal – see the Nordic walker on the right in the picture above. Or even better, get a Nordic walking instructor to measure it for you.
  • If you don’t have access to poles the ‘textbook’ formula is to multiply your height in cms by 0.68. For example someone who is 168cms tall (5’6) would need 168 x 0.68 = 114cm size poles. This method will give you a good estimation of size, but it does have its limitations – ie you may suit a longer pole if you enjoy an active walking style and have a straight-ish arm swing.
  • Other factors that impact on your pole length include your leg length in relation to your height (if you have a long body and short legs you’re likely to need a shorter pole) your stride length and your general range of motion.
  • Fixed length poles can usually only be bought in 5cm increments. Most Nordic walkers don’t find this a problem, but you may want to consider buying adjustable poles if you want to be 100% accurate with your sizing. You could be an ‘in-betweener’.
  • Keep reviewing your pole height. Often, when you start Nordic walking a shorter length pole will feel more comfortable. This is principally because you are still developing your technique and for most people it is easier to learn on a shorter pole. As you become more proficient a longer pole may be more appropriate (you can get more rotation for a start).
  • Different makes and styles of pole sometimes feel different lengths in practice, even though they measure the same. For instance the Exel Curve Pro feels longer than its straight counterpart. It’s always best to try a pole out before buying it if you possibly can, either borrowing it from an instructor or a fellow Nordic walker.
  • Always go with what feels right for you and when you know what size is right for you, spend a bit of money on a good quality pole. A lightweight 100% carbon pole will have less vibration, be lighter and have a satisfying swing. Definitely worth the investment!

The Bristol Nordic Walking Team